It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.
Well, I knew I was motivated by challenges, and that really showed last week! Since I joined the Book-A-Day challenge I have read more books in one week than I have in a long time–and a smorgasbord of books as well. Ahhhh, summer 🙂
Last Week’s Books:
I don’t read adult books very often, and very often I claim that MG/YA books are so good that I don’t feel like I am missing much. However, I am very glad my friend, Kari, gave me Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan. I found myself completely wrapped up in the story of Clay Jannon, an unemployed web designer who finds more than he bargained for when he takes a graveyard-shift job at a quirky bookstore and lending library. It is the library and its patrons that intrigue Clay, and he quickly becomes involved in the race to solve an ancient puzzle, using modern means and friends to do it. Although I have not read The Da Vinci Code, I know enough about it to say people who enjoyed and the National Treasure movies would especially enjoy this book. In addition, Clay’s recruitment of a Google employee, a special effects designer, and a video imaging guru will make this Alex Award winner appeal to fans of Cory Doctorow as well.
I was serious when I tweeted that Penny Kittle’s Book Love is filled with so much truth and beauty that it brought tears to my eyes. Kittle not only makes an iron-clad case for independent reading at the high school level, but she also gives readers proof of how it has turned non-readers in her classroom into book lovers with life-long reading plans. This book should be required reading for literature teachers and, especially, school administrators.
All those who said the graphic novel Battling Boy by Paul Pope was a perfect choice for middle grade readers were absolutely right. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of students I know who will love this origin story of a new superhero coming to Earth from a distant planet. It’s great that Battling Boy is unsure of himself, hasn’t yet mastered his powers or knowing how to use them most wisely, and makes mistakes–just like the kids who will read it. And the illustrations? Monsters and battle scenes and lightning–oh, my!
I finally read The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt, after hearing so much about it. This home-spun tall tale about the legendary Sugar Man, raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah, and Chap Brayburn and his family’s sugar pies just begs to be read aloud. These swamp-dwellers “battle” the forces of evil, in the form of a greedy landlord, a female alligator wrestler, and a gang of wild hogs. The cast of characters is unforgettable, and readers will enjoy cheering on the good guys and see the bad guys get what’s coming to them.
Although Trapped by Marc Aronson is an information book, readers will still find themselves rooting for the 33 miners buried in a mine in northern Chile in August 2010–and the international team of rescuers. Aronson’s book tells the story of not only what was happening above the surface of the earth but also how the miners worked together to keep themselves alive until their rescue. It was a fascinating read, and the photographs, diagrams, and charts did much to improve understanding of the events and the people involved. The book also has top-notch back matter, including Aronson’s “How I Wrote This Book,” which should be required reading for student researchers and their teachers. I love how Aronson explains that many of the results a Google search returns are thin and flat–telling the same information again and again and that real research much stretch far beyond that.
Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, was published this week, so, naturally, I had to buy it. The book started out as an experimental multimedia presentation at the Sydney Opera House’s Graphic Festival, where Gaiman read his story accompanied by illustrations by Eddie Campbell and the FourPlay String quartet. You can hear Gaiman talk about it (before it happens) here. The book, itself, is a creepy tale of revenge set in the hills of Scotland. A small, strange man hires Callum MacInnes as a guide to a cave of gold, but that’s not what either one of them is really looking for. The illustrations make this part picture book but the comic panels make it part graphic novel as well. The content of the story makes this a book for adults–and a haunting one at that.
I came across Queen Fussy by Mister Tom (Tom Neely) in my favorite used bookstore. When I saw the face on that cat, I just had to read it. This picture book from 1973 is a tale told in rhyme of Queen Fussy and the castlecats she forces to clean her castle from dusk til dawn. When a small speck of dust appears, the catlecats and then Queen Fussy herself go to extreme lengths to get rid of it, and Queen Fussy ends up getting her just desserts. The message of the book is thinly veiled, the rhyme is sometimes forced, and the book doesn’t even appear on Goodreads (yet 🙂 ) but it was still an amusing read on a summer afternoon.
On Deck: (among others)